Despite all of the Democratic spinmeisters working the media like they should have been working the Congress, people out here on Main Street aren't all that impressed with the results of President Obama's first year in office. As this post is being written before the State of the Union speech, you will get to compare my thoughts with his by the time this gets published.
Speaking for many, blogger Robert Scheer declares that "The state of the union is just miserable, no matter how President Obama sugarcoats it." There is much evidence to support this contention.
For instance, sales of existing U.S. homes fell 17% as the $8000 tax credit program was to end in November. But in yet another nod to his Wall Street benefactors as he again raced to their rescue, this credit was extended until March 31. Housing sales resumed a light growth pattern. But once this credit ends, with little improvement to be seen in the economy, the housing sector will once again add to the weighty anchor slowly dragging this country into the Great Depression v2.00.
But as the Oval Office oral rotators gleefully spew like lawn sprinklers every chance they get, Obama's new focus is jobs Jobs JOBS! Considering that after a year of neglecting to notice the mauling of Main Street, and at a time when more people are on welfare despite the draconian qualification ritual that Bill Clinton pushed for once he lost his Democratic majority over a botched health care reform proposal, this should be welcome news. It isn't, for the White House can't be sure just how many jobs they created with the minuscule stimulus (compare $787 billion for this to the amount promised to the Wall Street banks – estimates very between at least $13 TRILLION and up to as much as $24 TRILLION [according to MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan] of Your Money.) compared to the billions which have been lost to the banks with no hope of recovery. Because people are about out of alternatives, this has become just another reason to feel like Obama isn't cutting the mustard. for just like under Bush, we just are not a part of Obama's base.
Everyone has by now heard about how low-wage slave driver WalMart is outsourcing 11,200 Sam's Club product demonstrators. Always lower wages. Always. One self-proclaimed affectee calling herself Jared Abbott ("I am a single working mother…") wrote some affecting observations in her J'accuse located in the comment thread of this article. Abbott sadly observes that "I had to watch myself and my elderly coworkers be…[laid off]…so WalMart can make a few extra bucks," then added, "We were just a number to them." She then rips into the media: "Why isn't the news doing more with this subject?"
As I hope to demonstrate below, the media IS covering this topic, and in some detail. It just isn't necessarily being done by one of the usual suspect media giants.
Over at America Online, after convincing 1,100 employees to accept three month's pay as a departing gift, involuntary job losses began, with as many as 2,500 more jobs slated to meet with the real-life version of George Clooney's Up In The Air persona Ryan Bingham. Let's hope they get more than a lot of glib happy talk.
Verizon Communications Inc. missed their estimated 2009 revenue projection by $200 million, largely due to growing unemployment in their customer base. So what do they do? Make it worse by sending 13,000 of their employees to join those ex-customers.
Even the iconic American company Harley Davidson is adding more to the total of thousands of US employees laid off in 2009 by sending another "25 or 30" to "Git their motors running" and "head out on the unemployment highway" to join their their brethren "lookin' for employment in whatever comes their way."
"Yeah – ridin' won't make it happen!" Heavy metal thunder, Batman!
It's enough to make the working class want to sue, and thanks to the Great Recession, there are a lot of defeathered legal eagles looking for some means of gainful employment. Maybe after dropping off dozens of resumes at the usual low-wage last resorts, they would be up for a little public interest pro bono work. Consult your out-of-work legal professional for more details.
Over all last month, unemployment rates rose in 43 states. but the numbers would have been much higher had thousands of frustrated workers continued hunting for work instead of dropping out of the labor force and off the U3 unemployment statistical charts. North Carolina's unemployment rate hit a record high in December of 11.2% while their South Carolina cousins beat that with a record 12.6%.
Maybe Joe Wilson was right after all? Will he try it again this year?
One of the finest municipal transportation agencies in the nation is about out of gas. The Chicago Transit Authority, one of the Windy City's larger employers, is looking to put almost 1200 of their employees under their aging buses. Cheaper to wheel them than deal them, I guess.
Meanwhile, in the Golden State, Los Angeles will lay off at least 1,000 city employees and furlough thousands of its employees throughout 2010. About 1300 people stood in the rain to apply for seasonal jobs at Great America near San Francisco. Some of these may well have been affected by having delayed their federal disability benefits. Capitol Weekly reports that "these furloughs have not saved the state any money, since the federal government pays the furloughed employees’ salaries." Over the line in Nevada, the unemployed there face similar problems getting their unemployment checks – for similar reasons.
As bad as these governmental job cuts have been, the more pressing matter of public safety is being affected, with Butler County, OH closing the Domestic Relations Court, giving up mediation of family disputes and returning hundreds of Juvenile Court cases to the county's overburdened Juvenile Court. Is not Justice Delayed Justice Denied? What about those for whom the Bell of Justice has already tolled? In Fresno, CA, Sheriff Margaret Mims will release inmates and layoff 69 correctional officers due to mandated budget cuts. Feeling safer now that the budgets are being reduced just like the conservatives want?
Deep in the Heart of Texas, unemployed people in Austin have been to so many job fairs that they are beginning to recognize each other, and their unemployment rate is only 6.9%. Over in Weld County, CO, their average weekly wages showed the biggest decline among the country's largest counties at 9%. This was seen as being due to a drop of 32% in average weekly wages for those in the higher-wage jobs of trade, transportation and utilities.
So if Obama cared to know what the state of the union was before he orated another fallacy, maybe he would be well-served to watch The Recess Ends. It is, as one of the creators put it to the Huffington Post, "America's story." Brothers Austin and Brian Chu "wanted to explore how the recession was affecting Americans". They drove across the country, listening to the news and going unannounced to the cites of major layoffs. The brothers spent $15K to make the movie, but they claim they were not in it for the money. "We don't want to charge people for the film," says Austin. "Taking money from a recession film … that would be so wrong."
So what do the brothers want to get out of the film? They want the satisfaction of knowing they got their viewers to "Know the people on the bus with you" and "Don't be afraid of each other," says Austin Chu.
One Chu brother favorite is Detroit resident Grace Lee Boggs. Boggs, an Asian-American married to a former Black Panther associate, merited high praise from the 26-year-old Irvine CA filmmaker: "At around 90, she's still fighting like she's 25."
Fighting like we're 25 is becoming our way of life, according to University of Chicago economics professor Casey B. Mulligan. Mulligan claims that Obama's minimum wage increase which went into effect last July is leading to a decline in part-time jobs. Mulligan sniffs, "…it’s too bad that an ill-conceived and unnecessary minimum-wage law added hundreds of thousands of people to the list of those who today cannot find jobs."
Maybe Mulligan should converse with Austin, TX residents Ray Hebert and Oscar Sotuyo.
Hebert last worked for IBM until 2008, one of thousands of IBM layoffs. He's since submitted 279 job applications over the more than 27 weeks he's been unemployed. He's had a few interviews, but no job offers. He's managed to hang on to his house so far, but the savings are running out and he soon will have no other option — and still no job.
Sotuyo worked for Dell Computer until last March. He has had interviews, and has had a few offers which just might be of some interest to Professor Mulligan. Sutoyu says that he has had interviews for jobs paying much less than his previous salary. "I'd be willing to take a pay cut," he said. "I just can't take a 75 percent pay cut." And this would be AFTER the minimum wage increase.
Just how low are we human workers to go? Retired USAF Lt Col William J. Astore looked at this issue in his Corporations Are Citizens – What Are We? written for truthout.org. In it, Astore says:
"…we've been reduced to obedient eunuchs in thrall to the economy. Our sole purpose is to keep buying and spending. Corporations, meanwhile, are the citizen-activists in our politics, with the voting and speech rights to match their status."
How are we to buy anything and keep the economy going if we can't find jobs that pay enough after necessities for non-necessities? I don't see how we can. therefore, the projectioin for the economy cannot be good.
But it isn't all bad news for the President. He can make the claim that the rising economic tide is lifting all boats, and not be tacking the truth. At least not too much, for Wisconsin's yacht building industry, which lost thousands of jobs during the downturn, is beginning to receive orders for new boats. These new orders are in sufficient numbers that the three main builders are thinking of calling people back to work to meet the growing demand. I guess all those Goldman Sachs corporate citizenship bonuses have to be spent somewhere, right?
At least they have something to spend. Too many out on Main Street do not. As over 70% of the economic activity of the nation once came from Main Street, how is the economy to recover enough to end the growing impoverishment of the American People much less Obama's disastrous health insurance mandate? If money doesn't circulate, then the economy dies. It will take down the mom-and-pops along with the big guys like Caterpillar, as they just learned the hard way. The hope to make it up once they outsource their sales markets to China.
At Caterpillar, they must not believe in America anymore. Before too much longer, neither will the American People, for there is already no longer any benefit to them in doing so.